An Iron Wind

An Iron Wind

Europe Under Hitler

Book - 2016
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"Unlike World War I, when the horrors of battle were largely confined to the front, World War II reached into the lives of ordinary people in an unprecedented way. Entire countries were occupied, millions were mobilized for the war effort, and in the end, the vast majority of the war's dead were non-combatant men, women, and children. Inhabitants of German-occupied Europe--the war's deadliest killing ground--experienced forced labor, deportation, mass executions, and genocide. As direct targets of and witnesses to violence, rather than far-off bystanders, civilians were forced to face the war head on. Drawing on a wealth of diaries, letters, fiction, and other first-person accounts, award-winning historian Peter Fritzsche redefines our understanding of the civilian experience of war across the vast territory occupied and threatened by Nazi Germany. Amid accumulating horrors, ordinary people across Europe grappled with questions of faith and meaning, often reaching troubling conclusions. World War II exceeded the human capacity for understanding, and those men and women who lived through it suspected that language could not adequately register the horrors they saw and experienced. But it nevertheless prompted an outpouring of writing, as people labored to comprehend and piece thoughts into philosophy. Their broken words are all we have to reconstruct how contemporaries saw the war around them, how they failed to see its terrible violence in full, and how they attempted to translate the destruction into narratives. Carefully reading these testimonies as no historian has done before, Fritzsche's groundbreaking work sheds new light on the most violent conflict in human history, when war made words inadequate, and the inadequacy of words heightened the devastation of war"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Basic Books, [2016]
ISBN: 9780465057740
Branch Call Number: 940.534 FRITZSC
Characteristics: xviii, 356 pages ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Europe under Hitler


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Mar 20, 2017

Historian Peter Fritzsche uses primary sources (diaries, letters, and eyewitness reports) to research how Europe devolved into chaos during World War II. It was the first war on the European continent that killed more civilians than soldiers. Although many were killed across the continent, the occupation in Eastern Europe was crueler and bloodier than the occupation in Western Europe. Putting the whole continent on "Berlin Time", constantly playing military music on public loudspeakers, creating multiple racial categories for all Europeans, and leaving corpses lying on city streets were just a few of the psychological tricks that the German occupiers used to subdue the local populations in their newly conquered lands. Fritzsche does a good job of convincing the reader that war is not composed of good guys and bad guys. It's all shades of grey guys reacting to ever-shifting conditions on the ground.

Feb 16, 2017

If you want to get a sense of what life was like for some populations under Nazi occupation, what individuals perceived to be happening and how they viewed their own situations, you will find this beautifully-written volume illuminating. Of the many things that I found compelling and sadly applicable to some circumstances today was the concept of "circles of empathy" and how some victim groups excluded others (most notably, Jews) from their full feelings of humanity, compassion, and fellowship.


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Mar 20, 2017

"Even before townspeople could see the German soldiers coming up the street, they heard the loud songs of military units. What astonished listeners was the military comportment, the collective exaltation, and the sheer lung power of the group."


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